You might think that a headlamp is just a regular flashlight strapped to your head, but I like to think of it as your third eye since it provides perception that is beyond your ordinary sight. Whether you are out for an adventure in the wild, walking your dog on the local trail, or just fixing up your car late at night, a headlamp can come in really handy. The most obvious advantage of having a lamp strapped to your head is that you keep your hands free while lighting your way in the dark, but it also has to be comfortable since you might be wearing it for hours at a time, provided that the battery can last long enough.
So, before you go on and duct tape a flashlight on your head, which is without a doubt the cheapest option, you might want to consider some of the features that make hiking headlamps an elegant and functional piece of equipment that is essential to every outdoor kit.
One of the features that is most often talked about in the flashlight community is the light output which is expressed in lumens. You definitely want a headlamp that is powerful enough, but you also want it to have a longer battery life, also know as run time. This brings me to the lighting modes which directly affect the run time of the headlamp. You want to be able to switch between different modes such as red, low, medium, high, or extra high, depending on the situation, and you want to be able to do that fast and easy which means the interface is also an important factor. Since hiking headlamps are mostly used outdoors it should be durable and waterproof or at least water-resistant. And last but not least, you want all the features mentioned above in a compact light-weight package with an ergonomic design which you can comfortably wear on your head.
There is a wide range of hiking headlamps models on the market with different features, designs, quality, and prices, coming from well-established brands like Armytek, Led Lenser, JETBeam, Nitecore, Olight, TruNite, and so on. However, my personal favourite and also the model I am currently using is the Fenix HL60R 950 lumen rechargeable dual light LED headlamp. It weights at only 121g and delivers an output of 950 lumens at turbo mode, with a beam reaching up to 116m. It has a rechargeable 18650 Li-ion battery which provides up to 100 hours of run time depending on the mode and a Micro USB port for charging. It is equipped with a neutral white CREE LED for better colour rendering and an easy to use side switch with 5 output modes including a red light mode. It has an aluminum housing and an IPX-8 waterproof classification. The housing is curved in order to fit comfortably on your forehead and the extra top head strap will provide additional support. Overall this is a great hiking headlamp perfect for exploring the backcountry.